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New coach at Syracuse looks to reclaim past glory

10/07/2009 -

Syracuse University is no stranger to success on the mat. Since the program’s inception in 1922, the Orange have had countless NCAA All-Americans, including NCAA champion Jim Nance. Syracuse also stakes claim to two Olympic wrestlers, one of which is local coach and celebrity Gene Mills.

In 2001, Syracuse cut its legendary wrestling program. In 2003, Syracuse joined the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) in an effort to continue it’s rich wrestling tradition. As recently as 2008, the Orange qualified two wrestlers to NCWA nationals, but lack of leadership almost led to the demise of the program yet again.

In August, it was announced that Syracuse has a new head coach. The Orange welcome aboard John Crandall, whose experience and business know-how will ensure stability that will keep the program running. “I am looking forward to this and many upcoming seasons with Syracuse,” Crandall said. “I am blessed to have a room full of talented wrestlers with the drive to win.”

John comes from Syracuse via Richmond, Virginia. His last coaching job was at Mills Godwin High School in Henrico where he was an assistant coach under the legendary Steve Crocker. Crocker’s coaching tree boasts many top coaches in the Richmond area. While at Godwin, John coached seven AAA state finalists, and a list of state qualifiers, including seven in the 05-06 season. Before arriving at Godwin, John coached his former high school team, John F. Kennedy in Sacramento, California. John is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he took leadership of a new NCWA program and served as head coach, coaching two national qualifers. John also recently completed his MBA at University of Phoenix, and currently works for a national marketing firm. He is single.

What does John have in store for Syracuse? “The first thing we need is numbers,” he explained. “This year it looks like we should have a full squad of primarily underclassmen. Over the next four years I hope to turn them into champions.” Currently, John only has two returning wrestlers, but also has many experienced wrestlers primarily from New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. When asked about the level of competition, John explained “we’re going to do the best we can. Most of our tournaments are only a few hours away, and I am trying to mix it up a little so that my wrestlers aren’t wrestling the same teams every weekend.” One tournament the team is most looking forward to is the Builder Invitational in Newport News, Virginia. “When I was coaching at VCU I took my wrestlers to that tournament. The Apprentice School is the defending national champion, and this tournament attracts the best of the best from the NCWA. Last year the tournament featured University of Central Florida, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and Southern Virginia University. It’ll be a great way to prep my wrestlers for the post-season.” When asked about the future of the program, John emphasized that he is looking at the current season. “I have a four-year business plan for the program that at this time includes mainly logistics, but as far as wrestling goes, I am focused on the present and building up my squad. After Nationals then I’ll look at the 2010-11 season.”

The Orange kick off their season November 13 at the Washington Square Armory in Albany against University of New Haven at the Veterans Day Duals, hosted by UAlbany.